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Local farmers share the fruits of their labor

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New Roots at the IRC empowers hundreds of newcomers with land, materials and education to grow healthy foods for their families. This summer, as the gardens and farms across Washington began to flourish, the New Roots Program at the IRC in Seattle and the Food Innovation Network (FIN) kicked off their new fresh produce delivery initiative, which connects local producers with elders experiencing food instability.  

Each week until December, fresh harvest bags containing produce from refugee and immigrant farm-stands, Alvarez Organic Farms, and Collins Family Orchards will be delivered to elders in the South King County region.

Fresh tomatoes grown by refugee and immigrant farmers - ready to be shared with community elders. Photo: Hannah Letinich/IRC

The COVID-19 pandemic has put some older shoppers at higher risk when visiting a busy market and many seniors experience barriers to transportation to and from local farmer’s markets. According to Anastasia, a member of the New Roots team, many IRC clients prefer to eat a diet heavy in fresh produce – but accessing affordable, organic produce in the United States can be difficult due to the high price point in grocery stores. Seniors are often forced to make tough choices between buying high-quality, fresh produce and paying for other essentials. To address this issue and support the health and wellbeing of newcomer seniors, FIN and New Roots began delivering produce this summer – and continue to do so now, reaching up to 50 households per week. Each week, elders receive a small bag of hearty greens, fresh fruit, or root vegetables – delivered straight to their door. Some choose to pick up their produce bag at the Tukwila Farmer’s Market, where they’re also eligible to receive $10 in “Heart Bucks” from the American Heart Institute to spend on more produce from vendors at the market. Market vendors also accept SNAP and provides Fresh Bucks to EBT recipients – with the goal of removing barriers and making local, organic produce available to everyone.  

Krishna and Yousuff, are two farmers who have graduated from the IRC’s Microproducer Academy, an eight-week program that teaches budgeting, crop planning, irrigation and other farming skills. Both operate farm-stands at the Tukwila Farmer’s Market, from June to mid-October. Each week through the summer and fall, these farmers have set aside a portion of their produce to be delivered to elders in the SeaTac/Tukwila area. Krishna and Yousuff's chard, mustard greens, root vegetables, or herbs are paired with Alvarez or Collins fruits and veggies – which elders, including their own parents, enjoy as a fresh supplement to their usual groceries each week.  

A farmer at Namaste Garden waters vegetables. Photo: Hannah Letinich/IRC

FIN and New Roots will continue to distribute fresh produce, culturally appropriate food, and food vouchers to elders and families facing food insecurity through the holiday season. If you're interested in supporting refugee and immigrant elders this season, consider contributing to our Winter Welcome Donation Drive or giving direclty